The research goes on…

Three trips to Margate in a month and now Pushing Print is over.  It was a good show, lots of interesting work and getting to meet other artists was lovely.  I also got some good entomology suggestions too, so the beetle project is developing. 
Unfortunately the Zoology Museum in Cambridge is closed for renovations,  however,  I was kindly allowed a morning’s access to a few beetles last week.  Can you imagine the work it is going to involve packing up all those insects, birds and shells, etc?    
It is such an amazing experience going into these more scientific/academic ‘zones’, which are obviously so different from the messy, yet controlled hubbub of a print room.  I was given a desk in a quiet corner with a magnifiying table light and I sat quietly drawing all morning.  I am intrigued by all the entomological equipment, the perspex boxes, the pins, the little platforms of styrofoam,  where cork or something similar was used before… (note to self – check this out!). 
Musk Beetle
I have produced so far a few beetle etchings.  I am trying out different methods, hard ground, soft ground and sugar lift aquatint to see what I think works the best.  Here are a few to begin with.

An assortment of beetle etchings in progress and sketch of Darwin’s Beetle box.

Hister Beetle – Sugar lift Aquatint, hard ground and burnishing.

Rhinoceros beetle –  Hard ground etching.

In addition, I have just finished a  Nuthatch painting.   Now to finish my tax return…. that’s no fun at all!

Nuthatch on a branch – 10 x 10 in Oil/Panel

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Since my arrival…

It’s been all go since I arrived in New Mexico on the 6th June.   Paintings to finish, article to prepare for,  (more on that when it’s published),  tending to our somewhat overgrown garden and the very occasional foray into DIY!  In addition to which I have been catching up with dear friends and family and my lovely husband (Barry McCuan) of course.  It’s been eighteen months since I was here last and it’s lovely to be back, but it is also quite strange and takes a little getting used to, a little like a parallel universe!  Driving on the wrong side of the road certainly concentrates the mind for sure!

Spending the odd half hour in the hammock under our Black Locust trees has certainly helped me slide back into New Mexico life.  The warmth of the air, (the heat of the midday sun), the cool evenings and mornings feel so good to me.

Here are a few photos to start with…   The dust devil photo was taken on our drive back from Albuquerque on the day of my arrival.   Amazing to watch, as it slowly made its way across the arid landscape.   I have been enjoying taking photos around our house.  The strong shadows created by our coyote fence have particularly intrigued me and one of our Agave plants flowered in my absence, leaving a most beautiful ‘living’ sculpture.  The wildlife has been making their presence known and I love the way the moth matches our adobe walls!   However, I am rather glad that the fierce looking Assasin or Robber Fly stays outside. (Thanks to Russell Stebbings at the Zoology Museum, Cambridge for identifying this creature).   It’s the first time I have ever seen one in New Mexico.  

I have been to the Santa Fe Etching studio only once so far (yes, Eric, we will be back this week!), where I created a tiny soft ground.   I will leave you with the view from my hammock! 

More Sugar lifting!

Two plate sugarlift etching, testing my skills at registration!

In my quest to move away from drypoints, as you know I have been experimenting with sugar lift aquatints.  Here are a few of the tests and experiments.  The bugs got a little more creative inspired by a recent visit to the reserve collection in the Zoology Museum in Cambridge.  What a treat that was!  We also visited the Tate Print Collection on Wednesday and got to see some beauties close up.  I just loved this early Hockney print, which I believe is his first etching… puts me to shame!  Below are some photos from last week.

Abstraction from a landscape painting in sugarlift aquatint
Dragonfly Abstraction – 1.50 x 2 approx.

Flower Mantis sugarlift –  1.50 x 2 approx.

David Hockney – Myself and my heroes. Better image to be found with Tate link